Herman Kathan / Percussionist

As a musician, composer and teacher, Herman Kathan focuses on percussive traditions from West Africa, South and Central America and Asia. In the more than 30 years of his musical career, his own personal style and approach to percussive music has developed based on these traditions. For him music means experiencing inner and outer structures, on the part of the audience as well as the musician him- or herself.

Kathan has engaged in intense study of West African Mandinke music as well as Brazilian cult and popular music. Apart from a large number of percussion instruments, his main instruments are the djembé, the berimbao, atabaques and bass drums.In addition to detailed musical knowledge, Herman Kathan can impart insights into the mental and philosophical structures of this music.

His well-founded knowledge of the music of the Mandinke peoples and its structures was aquired by Kathan during various visits to many West African countries. He owes his rich knowledge of musical traditions to his own studies as well as to outstanding djembé performers such as Mamady Keita, Famoudou Konaté and Soungalo Coulibaly. He has performed concerts and gone on tour with all three.

He owes his repertoire of Brazilian music primarily to Dudu Tucci. His focus has been on the cultic tradition, the Candomblé. This music continues to possess strong African roots.

The berimbao, a rhythm instrument with only one string, is one of his favorites. It is reported to be one of the oldest kinds of instruments in the world. Thus the musical influences are quite diverse.

As a musician he has founded and directs various ensembles. With his celebrated band "Busch-Werk" he goes on tour regularly with some of the most acclaimed and respected percussionists from Africa and Europe, the most eminent ones being Nippy Noya, Famoudou Konaté and Soungalo Coulibaly.


"Herman Kathan, a musician saturated with the dynamics and rhythms of Brazil, Africa and Cuba."
(Schwabacher Tagblatt)